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  • Day15

    Bloomington IL

    April 26 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 15 °C

    Yesterday was our last long road trip to the 50 states. We have reached 48. Unknowingly, we learned from our Pink Jeep tour guide that Arizona was the 48th state to join the union and it was our 48th state to travel. If we flip flopped our last two trips and went to Alaska before Hawaii, Hawaii would be our 50th and was the 50th to join the union. I don’t think we will do that because Alaska will be a longer summer trip and it will be our finale for Ben’s graduation. Next year, we will go to Hawaii.

    On our drive from Columbia to home, we began reflecting on where we started and where we are today and how so many things are different. The most obvious difference being the sizes of the kids. Somehow, I have gotten smaller. Strange how that happens. Here are some others...

    -Sleeping- On our first trips, all three were able to share one bed sideways. They didn‘t love it so we had overman (over the sheet), underman (under the sheet) and sleeping bag so they wouldn’t touch each other in the middle of the night. Now, its just a fight for who gets a bed alone. Guess where being the only girl works out in your favor.

    -Food-Food has gotten way more expensive and yes it is our fault. We have taught them how to eat well and try new things over the years so their palates have matured and they don’t use the kid menu any more. We love that because Paul and I love food.

    -Packing- I have gotten the hang of things over the years so packing is almost eerily too easy. The first year was a blur of lists. The kids can also pack most of their own stuff now. Though, they learned this year what things they forgot on the fly and thanked me for suggestions they thought were stupid at the time, like Easter clothes. Hmph. Another difference is the size of their clothes. Except for Matthew who is still a beanpole and wears the same thing every day. Elizabeth is a girl. Ben is a MAN. Their drawers of clothes speak for themselves. I am still the one with the most clothes and shoes. You must be prepared and have choices.

    -Electronics- We’ve gone from controlling movies to now, controlling the phones. Yes it makes for a quiet ride but if we don’t have “no electronic” times,, they wouldn’t talk to each other. I am fine that they stay in touch with friends but there has to be some time away from the phones. They seem to do fine with it even if they don’t want to. When we are eating, or listening to the books or out doing things, they don’t seem to be distracted by wanting their devices. They also use their phones for the cameras and not just for social media but for creativity and capturing moments or sites that they want to remember.

    -Our dogs- My parents used to take our dogs on our trips which was great because I wouldn’t want them to be in a kennel and I know they love them. It is too hard for my parents now, so my friend Jen, who used to take care of our kids long ago, takes care of my pups now. I know she loves them, too. I trust her to love them. We are so thankful that she and Craig and Mila take good care of them.

    -Moods-Moodiness is still there. Grumpiness is still a thing. Fighting still occurs. It is just different. It isn’t as easy to snap them out of moods these days. Ice cream used to do it, now a Starbucks does the trick. They still fight but now they have the ability and less fear unbuckling their seatbelts and having a full on MMA fight in the back of the van. Where my mom was able to reach back and start swinging, this van is its own sports arena that I cannot even ref from the front because I can’t reach them and they can’t hear me. Also, when they are reprimanded now, they have this uncanny way of defending themselves and leaving us with a cocked head and a quizzical look like whose the boss here? I think they are now. Hmph. On top of it, now they defend each other when they think one of them is unfairly accused or they think we are being lunatics. Either our job is almost done or, I quit. There will be a day whilst sipping my buttery Chardonnay with my lovely and sweet grandchildren at my feet screaming and wailing when I will be slyly grinning (hysterically laughing inside) at my children as Karma bares its ugly face. Sip. Sip. Giggle.

    -Buy me-Those words that drain the life out of you and cash out of your wallet if you let it. When we started these trips we gave them an allotted amount of money to spend (so we wouldn’t hear, “buy me,” and they could do what they wanted with it. Often they would spend it on something stupid on the first day, even if we tried to talk them out of it and it would no sooner slip into the pocket on the side of the door and remain there until the following trip the next year. They learned over the years how to spend their money and get us to spend ours. Ben is the best at money manipulation. He knows how to hoard his money and squeeze money out of us or his siblings. He is so charming. Elizabeth has become very money savvy and is very careful how she spends it. When I hear the words, “oooo mom look at this shirt,” I am far more clever than she gives me credit. I know what that is code for...”Buy me.” I just say, “oooo, you should buy that.” Glare thrown my way. Smirk back at ya. If it is too much for her to spend, then I should buy it. Smart girl. Matthew is different. He will willingly give them his money and he will purchase something ridiculously priced without a thought (until he realizes he has no money). The good news is that Ben and Elizabeth both have jobs, caddying and babysitting, and have their own money. I am not sure how Matthew gets his money. They carry purses and wallets now and look forward to gas stops to buy crap in the store.

    I am sure a lot more has changed but one thing I do know is that our family is closer because of these trips. Paul asked me a scary question, “What would our family be like if we didn’t take these trips?” I don’t know. I don’t want to know because they have shaped us as a family. We have learned a ton from being locked in a car for 16 days at a times. I am proud of my kids and my family for who we are becoming. I love them all with my whole heart. I wouldn’t change a thing.
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